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Keynote Speakers

Mike Palmer
Director and Chair of Waterway Recovery Group

Mike is a dedicated waterways restoration volunteer having spent the last 25 years using his enthusiasm and passion to help restore many derelict locks and sections of canal across England and Wales – from Aston Locks on the Montgomery Canal to the Droitwich Barge Lock in the Midlands.

He is currently chairman of Waterway Recovery Group (WRG) which he sees as the national co-ordinating body for voluntary labour on the inland waterways of Great Britain promoting best practice in volunteer restoration of canals.  He has been instrumental in the development of IWA’s Restoration Hub in which WRG plays a major part.  He has actively encouraged the restoration movement to adopt best practice in volunteer management, health and safety, canal restoration skills and techniques, and plant operation.  He is a perfect example of showing how volunteering can be done professionally, but also with passion and his endeavours were justly rewarded with an MBE in 2016.

Catherine Sheridan
Manager of Engineering & Maintenance for the New York State Canal Corporation

Catherine T. Sheridan, P.E. has over 28 years of experience in the transportation and maritime industries and is currently the Manager of Engineering & Maintenance for the New York State Canal Corporation. Her prior public sector positions include Chief Engineer and Deputy Chief Engineer for the New York State Thruway Authority, as well as increasingly responsible positions at the New York State Department of Transportation. Cathy served in the United States Army as a Combat Engineer and was honourably discharged as a Captain. She earned a Bachelor of Music in Trumpet Performance from Boston University and Master of Science in Civil Engineering & Engineering Mechanics from Columbia University in the City of New York. Cathy is a licensed Professional Engineer in New York State.

Minyang Zhu

Chairman of World Historical and Cultural Canal Cities Cooperation Organization (WCCO)

Mr. Minyang Zhu, currently chairman of World Historical and Cultural Canal Cities Cooperation Organization (WCCO), used to be the CPC party chief (2015.04-2011.09) of Jiangyin, one of China’s star county-level cities in the Yangtze River Delta regions, and mayor of Yangzhou (2012.06 -2016.09) which is known as “the first city on the China Grand Canal”.

A canal enthusiast, Mr. Zhu took over chairmanship of WCCO in 2012, and witnessed in person the China Grand Canal’s inscription onto the World Heritage List in 2014. With profound insights and rich experience in building and running an NGO in China and in contemporary social governance, he has led WCCO’s growth into an acclaimed, influential international NGO featuring standardized and internationalized operation. The Organization has developed into a platform that dedicates itself to the promotion of cultural and economic exchanges between the world’s canal cities.

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